The Pressure: What is right for you and how to communicate it!
Let’s face it. Finding a massage therapist that suits your needs isn’t always easy. That’s why it’s important to know one of the most basic things you need yourself to find the right fit, and that is the kind of pressure you need.
Now I think many of you who have been to certain places or people know that they always ask you what kind of pressure do you like, and while this is a good question it isn’t always met in the right way after you answer.
The amount of pressure and kind of pressure, is really a personal thing, but it’s more than that. Light pressure doesn’t always mean just putting lotion on your skin, and deep pressure doesn’t mean going to the bone.
In school one of the best classes I ever took was a class on intuitive massage work. In this class it was stressed that instead of focussing solely on technique that we really pay attention to the clients reactions, and that is where I found one of the most important aspects of my practice to give my clients the best results. Therapeutic touch.
The pressure you need really is based on how your tissue reacts. So, as a therapist it’s my job to find and apply the right kind of pressure. Too much and your body clams up and you can’t relax, you fight against the pressure, and a lot of the time your body ends up being more upset than when you first began.
That is why when it comes to finding the right therapist make sure you find one that knows how to work on the line between effective and relaxing. At the most things should feel like a good hurt. By having this knowledge you can ensure you won’t wake up feeling beat up, just make sure to relay this to your therapist. Despite how intuitive we are, sometimes we aren’t completely on point. That is why I always check in with anyone I work with, I want them to have the relief they need.
So the next time you get a massage, remember, what feels best for you more often than not is what is best for you!
The Psoas and Your Feet: the secret to managing some of that pesky pain
I get it. Sometimes we can’t always make time to get massage work to mitigate our pain. Between work, significant others, friends, sometimes our self care gets away from us. So what do we do if we don’t have an hour during a therapists business hours if we are in pain, specifically that low back pain that we have been complaining about?
Now to be clear this advice may not work for all of you but my journey towards finding a means to help my own back pain has yielded some exercises that have helped me in those times of serious distress. About eleven years ago when I was eighteen I started developing intense low back pain related to sciatica, and for the longest time I couldn’t figure out how fix it.
It wasn’t until I was in massage school that I discovered one of the best forms of massage work that helped sort out my low back pain. Psoas work. The psoas muscles are two bands of muscle deep to the abdominal cavity that attach to your lumbar and run through your hips to your glutes and legs, and when it is tight or in distress, I have found that ninety percent of the time it is the culprit for low back pain.
Today in a culture that does most of its work sitting down, the psoas is consistently in a shortened position with the hips creased which inevitably over time leads to the psoas getting tight, making standing up and laying down uncomfortable. Since it is something I have suffered with for so long I learned a whole series of techniques to relieve the psoas muscles, and it’s why I specialize in low back pain. But, as I have said, what is to be done if massage work can’t fit into our week or budget?
There are two things I have found that have helped me in the past. First however, I want to be clear. As I am not a physican and am not privy to everyone’s medical history proceed with these exercises carefully and considerately, and when the self massage technique is shown only apply enough pressure to feel a relieving pain, farther than that you can cause bruising or injury.
Familiarize yourself where the psoas muscle is by going to youtube and looking up ways that massage therapists access those muscles. Once you understand the basic principle of where these muscles are then follow these stretches illustrated below, and apply pressure to the area as shown below after, you will feel the area is tender. Apply only enough pressure to feel a good hurt and take deep diaphragmatic breaths allowing your hands to work into the muscle deeper and deeper:
If you remember at the beginning of this article I also mentioned the feet. I have applied the above practices countless times, but sometimes the pain still lingers. I brought this to the attention of my parents, Robert and Melanie Sachs who have been body workers for over thirty years and who run their business from home, Diamond Way Ayurveda. After explaining to them that I have applied these self care techniques my mom explained to me that sometimes the tension can originate further down the body, in fact at the very bottom.
She then suggested that I find a tennis ball, sit in seat at a comfortable height and apply pressure to the bottom of my foot, from the very outside of my feet all the way into the middle. From doing so I discovered that my feet were in bad shape. They ached, and what was odd was it took just the slightest pressure to bring my attention to the areas that had serious restrictions.
After applying this simple exercise for about fifteen minutes I started to discover that some of the deeper pain I was experiencing started to subside slowly.
So remember, if you can’t see me to help get rid of that lingering or chronic pain your experiencing, check out these simple techniques, and I hope you find some relief until you are able to come see me.
Today, I feel many of you can agree with me, it’s a true discipline/ near struggle to try and fit everything you need and want to do into your day. Depending on your work schedule, five of seven days have a period of time where for about eight to sometimes twelve hours are spent dedicated to one thing, work. Now irrespective of whether you love your job or not this is a considerable chunk of your greatest asset being used, your time.
More than any other skill now days being presented as something to get a hang of is time management. You can buy all the planners in the world you want, but without the fundamental skill of managing and planning your time, so much of what we need and want to do tends to get jumbled together, and when it gets jumbled together one of our most basic needs to be our best selves gets neglected. Our time for self care.
Creating space and time for ourselves to accomplish what we need is integral to our health, which is why time management is part of the holistic practice of self care. Once we get time management locked in, we can focus on what we define as self care. A loose definition being, an action or actions that creates an opportunity for our mind and body to recover in order for us to be rested so we can be present with ourselves in our future activities, thereby being our best selves and doing our best work.
Now I could say that I have discovered some sort of ten step process to discover how to master time management and what self care looks like, but the reality is those practices look different for everyone. However I can say there is an underlying thread that I think we can look at in order to create a frame work for you to determine what self care looks like for you by examining some simple things.
What do you value most for yourself, and what cultivates your happiness? Despite being broad concepts, I think if we all take a moment to reflect on those things, the beginnings of what we care most about tend to arise. For myself, I value my physical health, and my ability to be centered when I’m interacting with others and my hobbies. The next process I would then consider is, what actions lead to creating the best result of meeting those needs. If I am able to focus on keeping those things in line with my day to day life, I know from experience that I will consistently have better and better days, more productivity, and memorable experiences.
To refine things even further I would like to leave you with this thought. Sometimes trying to manage too many tasks in the day is like trying to juggle to many pins, however if you realize that the practice of moving your hands in accordance with the pins remains the same no matter how many pins you add, juggling becomes easier, it just takes more coordination. In life then, we focus on our root action of the day, to focus on what we want out of our day, once that is clear all the other things we need to take care of become much easier to manage, because we are clear in our intention, and a clear intention leads to more assertive and productive actions. Self care, is not doing all of the things at once, it is refining what we need at a fundamental level. Take a deep breath, and a moment to discover what brings you joy, and soon a healthy wholesome pattern of self care will emerge.